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CNN Today

Gonzalez Family Snubs Government's Demand

Aired March 28, 2000 - 2:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez say no deal. They snubbed the government today and its demand for a written promise to give up the boy if they lose in court. It was a rejection accompanied by a tongue lashing.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us outside the family's home in Miami -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And before I tell you a little bit more about that tongue latching, I can tell you this, Natalie. At any time, a statement is expected from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. It would be its first public comment following that hour-long meeting it had earlier this day with the attorneys representing the great uncle of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez.

According to those lawyers, the U.S. Justice Department has given them a written statement to sign. It is a promise from Elian's uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, that he will turn over the boy to the U.S. authorities if he loses all appeals. Attorneys are calling that proposal "coercive" and "irrational," adding that having their clients sign it would amount to malpractice.

Lawyers are meeting this afternoon to discuss their options.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANNY DIAZ, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: He is exercising his guaranteed right to an appeal, based on the laws of this country. And the government is now saying that they don't have to honor this right to an appeal, and that the appellate court order that was issued yesterday has no bearing on their stance. And so again, the government seeks to deprive Elian of his hearing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Another meeting is scheduled on Wednesday between the INS and the lawyers representing the Florida relatives of the child. The Justice Department has said that if they do not get that written statement, it will revoke Elian's parole, which would make his presence in the U.S. illegal. However, the Justice Department has said -- has not said what it will do after that. Will they go in to remove the boy? All of that seems to be up in the air, and perhaps immigration authorities will reveal part of their plan later today when we hear from them. However, we suspect that's unlikely. Everyone seems to be playing their cards, holding them close to the vest, until, I think, the last moment. So we'll have to wait and see what happens.

The attorneys do finally do have one other option. If they don't sign. if the temporary parole is revoked, there is an option for them to ask for a court injunction to hold off the immigration service from removing the boy from his home here. We'll see if they do that.

Back to you.

ALLEN: All right, Susan Candiotti with all the details in Miami. Thank you. Now to Lou.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And all of this, of course, does beg the question, what will the government do now?

For that, let's go to Washington, CNN Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas is with us today -- Pierre.

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, I've talked to some Justice Department officials this afternoon, and they say, look, this is what you can expect on Thursday if the family continues to stonewall.

First, the parole would be revoked. And then secondly, a short time thereafter, the family would begin to get instructions from the Justice Department about an orderly -- what is called an orderly transfer of the boy. The specific date and time, that would come sometime shortly after the parole would be revoked.

Now the sources again are saying that the Justice Department is serious about this. Their main concern is that they do not want to go through an appellate process and then have no clear sign from the family that they will, in fact, turn over the boy -- Lou.

WATERS: Pierre, this all sounds as though the government believes this appeal in early May will fail.

THOMAS: Well the justice department feels very strongly that they are on sound legal ground and also moral grounds. Also, they're pointing out to me privately that, look, as a condition of Mr. -- Elian's great uncle having the boy in his home, as a condition of that, he signed an agreement which basically said he would abide by the Immigration and Naturalization Service ground rules.

Now what they're saying is that he is -- in effect, if he reneges on this particular agreement, does not sign the agreement, that he is in violation of that, and, therefore, they have the right to remove the boy from the home.

WATERS: All right, Pierre Thomas, we'll follow along. We're expecting to here from the INS at any time. We'll have that development for you as soon as it happens.

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